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Embiid’s playmaking paramount in Sixers’ win vs. Lakers

Anthony Davis was excellent, but Joel Embiid still controlled the game as the Sixers routed the LeBron-less Lakers.

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

While LeBron James was a late scratch, there was still plenty of star power on display.

Anthony Davis may have won the individual battle, but it was Joel Embiid’s playmaking that led the Sixers to a 105-87 win at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night. The Sixers improved to 29-19 on the season and have now won three straight and 13 of 16 overall.

James was out with left knee soreness.

Seth Curry (left ankle soreness) and Shake Milton (lower back contusion) missed their fourth and 12th straight games, respectively. Danny Green made his return to the lineup on a strict minutes restriction. Ben Simmons (personal reasons) remains out.

Here are a few observations from Thursday’s game.

First quarter

  • It appeared that Anthony Davis was fired up for his matchup against Embiid. Davis made a really nice move on a reverse drive. That actually seemed to get Jo going a bit. Embiid punished Davis multiple times with deep post position. Unfortunately, Davis appeared to injure his wrist and went back to the locker room late in the quarter. He did return.
  • A nice start from Tobias Harris following his season-high 33-point performance on Tuesday. He hit a three off good ball movement. He then found himself in mismatches with a pair of Lakers guards. He drove and used his strength and size to finish over both players with runners. Both moves were quick and confident.
  • Welcome back, Danny Green. He hit a three off excellent ball movement after an Embiid double team. Then he hit a deep one in transition. Not long after that, Georges Niang hit a three created by Embiid in transition.
  • Tyrese Maxey off to an excellent start with five assists and zero turnovers. He just missed a beautiful finish to close the quarter against former teammate Dwight Howard.
  • With no LeBron, this game doesn’t have much competitive luster early. Embiid (8 points) and Harris (7) led the way for the Sixers while Davis led the Lakers with 10 points. Sixers took a 32-22 lead into the second.

Second quarter

  • Good defensive effort from the reserves to start the quarter. Isaiah Joe comes in and knocks down a three. Sixers 6 of 13 to start from beyond the arc.
  • The starters got a little sloppy with the ball which let the Lakers get back into it a bit. The doubles on Embiid are coming a lot more aggressively, and Davis is heating up.
  • Embiid and Matisse Thybulle are really connecting. Embiid made two great reads and found Thybulle for a pair of easy baskets at the rim. That seemed to loosen things up as Harris easily beat an overaggressive closeout for a baseline drive and dunk.
  • Davis single-handedly kept L.A. in the game with some really impressive shot-making. He had 23 points. The next-closest Laker had seven. Embiid was strong overall with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. Harris had 11 and four assists. At the half, it was 54-48 Sixers.

Third quarter

  • Rebounding continues to be an enormous issue for this team. Lakers up to eight offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points. It’s a big reason L.A. stayed in the game.
  • Man, really missed those Thybulle “pick-six” plays. Three steals on the night in his second game back.
  • A much more aggressive Maxey here in the third. He’s got eight points in the period and is as active with off-ball movement as we’ve seen him. Sixers lead back up to 67-58 midway through the third.
  • Interesting strategy as the Sixers had Harris guard Davis and Embiid guard Stanley Johnson. Nice adjustment by Doc Rivers. Davis playing like it’s Game 7 of the Finals. He definitely has extra juice tonight going against Embiid.
  • Embiid having a rough shooting night (5 of 16) with super aggressive doubles coming on just about every touch. Harris and Maxey doing well to make the Lakers pay so far. Embiid doesn’t seem to be using his strength advantage over Davis nearly as much as he did early. He’s also uncharacteristically not shooting well from the line (4 of 8).
  • As I wrote that last portion, Embiid buries Davis deep in the post and gets an and one — and makes the free throw.
  • An “off night” for Embiid, who is up to 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. He’s read the floor exceptionally well tonight and his gravity is a big reason the Sixers were up big going into the fourth. Maxey up to 14 points, eight assists and just one turnover. Sixers took a 88-68 lead into the fourth.

Fourth quarter

  • Tough start for the bench-plus-Tobias lineup in the fourth. Just 1 of 6 to start the quarter and L.A. chipped away a little.
  • Back-to-back 20-point games for Harris. More importantly, he’s looked a lot better than he has for most of the season. He’s got six in the fourth, keeping the Lakers at bay.
  • Thybulle looked a little off in his first game back Tuesday. Not the case tonight. He just came out of nowhere to block a Malik Monk jumper, then finished a layup off a Harris double. He’s up to eight points, four steals and a block.
  • Carmelo Anthony was going back and forth with someone in the crowd and the fan was escorted out of the building. There’s just no room for bullshit like this from fans:
  • Sixers got extremely sloppy after getting the lead back up to 20. Just kind of going through the motions on the offensive end, leading to turnovers and poor possessions overall.
  • This is actually an encouraging Sixers win. Embiid didn’t have his best scoring night, but he controlled the entire game and the supporting cast made the Lakers pay. He recorded 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Harris had a solid night with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists. It was a great “point guard” night for Maxey, who had a career-high 10 assists — he nearly had a triple-double with 14 points and seven rebounds.